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Loving Life & Enjoying Food | Plant-Based

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Rachel Echols struggled with food addiction and cravings for years before her doctor recommended a whole food plant-based diet. That was the turning point that helped her regain her health.

Rachel Echols before and after weight loss

By: Rachel Echols

I didn’t always struggle

I grew up eating the standard American diet. I was always thin until I got married, but soon after I started having problems keeping a healthy weight.

After having my two children, I struggled to get the weight off, and as the years passed, I became more and more overweight. I also experienced frequent migraines, sugar addiction, and food cravings.

Dealing with food addiction

I tried a lot of diets. Some diets worked and some did not, but whenever I lost weight, I could never keep it off. Over the years I started using food as a crutch.

I was addicted to sweets and other rich foods and was an emotional eater. If there was chocolate anywhere in the house, it never lasted long around me.

At the age of 40, I ended up starting grad school and found that my weight problem just got worse. By the time I graduated I had gained another 35 pounds. I was at my highest weight ever.

A visit to my doctor revealed I was not only obese, with a BMI of 37, but that my cholesterol was 260. My doctor sent me home with a list of resources to help me make some positive lifestyle changes.

What struck me about our conversation was that she advised me to eat less meat, dairy and eggs, and to strive to follow a whole food, plant-based diet. I do not remember a doctor ever telling me that before.

I had no idea what a whole food, plant-based diet was. I was intrigued by this new advice from my doctor. I ended up watching Forks Over Knives. It really impacted me. I decided to try the changes my doctor recommended for one month, so I jumped in!

Transitioning my diet

I transitioned from the standard American diet to about 95% whole food, plant-based in around three days. The first few weeks, I ate lots of our normal side dishes and skipped the meat. I snacked a lot on raw vegetables, whole grain bread, and fresh fruit.

I was doing a lot of research and quickly found suggestions of how to replace meat and cheese in traditional dishes. Eliminating oil was the hardest for me and took some time.

In the first 30 days, I lost 14 pounds and felt more energetic and better than I had in a long time. My migraines lessened, my sleep improved, and I was able to concentrate better. At the end of my 30-day experiment, I knew I could never go back to eating the way I used to.

Rachel Echols before and after weight loss

By September 2019, I had easily lost 50 pounds and was feeling like a whole new person! I plateaued for a few months, then started on John McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss Program and began losing weight again.

Plant-based for life

I have now been living this amazing lifestyle for 2 years. I am down a total of 87 pounds from my highest weight, and my cholesterol has dropped 105 points, to 155.

I exercise 5-6 days a week, both cardio and strength training. I do not battle food addictions and emotional eating any longer. This lifestyle has cured me of all the problems with food that used to struggle with.

I feel energized and healthy. Although some people may think that adopting this lifestyle is difficult, I do not feel any deprivation. I do not have to exercise excessively. My weight is stable, and it is easy to maintain, and I can honestly say I love my life and enjoy my food!

Rachel Echols before and after weight loss

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